Libertarian Communism and Capitalist Spirituality

Mindfulness now serves the institutions

Against all odds, this is what emerged for three years amid the crossfire between the Fascists and the Bolsheviks during the Spanish Civil War

“[The collectives] demonstrate clearly that the working class are perfectly capable of running farms, factories, workshops, and health and public services without bosses or managers dictating to them. It proves that anarchist methods of organizing, with decisions made from the bottom up, can work effectively in large scale industry involving the coordination of many thousands of workers in many hundreds of places of work across numerous different cities and towns, as well as broad rural areas. The Spanish Revolution also gives an insight into the creative and constructive power of ordinary people once they have control over their lives. The Spanish working class not only kept production going through the war but in many cases managed to achieve increases in output. They improved working conditions and created new techniques and processes in their workplaces…The Revolution also showed that without the competition bred by capitalism, industry can be run in a much more rational manner. Finally, it demonstrated how the organized working class inspired by a great ideal has the power to transform society.”[1]

No politicians, no leaders, no bosses. Committees not authorities. Mutual aid not competition. People’s needs not greed. Eyewitness accounts speak of the confidence and enthusiasm of the people in the collectives. Orwell writes about the egalitarian atmosphere. A perfect storm of factors enabled it to happen. They changed their entire society toward the well being of every member of the Collective. Worth replicating, don’t you think? It all ended tragically by the guns of a Stalinist general, and then by Franco.

In the collectives, there was constant coordination between the production of the different agricultural and industrial committees for the purpose of raising the standard of living. In our system, production accumulates in private hands for the purpose of amassing capital. Now, to enhance production, our system wants to turn the space inside your head toward improved performance.

The unexpected turn toward of control your personal mental space by our major institutions hit me the other day as I watched an interview between Chris Hedges and Ron Purser. Dr. Purser has written a book called McMindfulness. He provocatively called the now multibillion-dollar mindfulness industry “capitalist spirituality.” As someone who began practicing Buddhist meditation during his college days in the 1970’s, I was all ears. The adoption of mindfulness training in corporations like Google, by school systems, by even the military all rip meditation out of its spiritual and moral context and puts it at the service of these institutions. It has commodified mindfulness to serve productivity, efficiency, resilience in combat. It places the onus of stress and anger on the individual and not their socio-economic context. Mindfulness is thus distorted to help people adjust to the demands of the corporate state.

Christ overturned the tables at the Temple, calling the place a den of thieves. Today he might be throwing out the meditation cushions.

[1] Stuart Christie, “Preface to the 2018 edition”, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution, Gaston Leval, author, PM Press, Oakland. 2018

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